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Khan spent millions to buy loyalty, Pak officials say

Khan spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy loyalty - writing cheques for anything from seminars to friends' weddings, officials said.

india Updated: Feb 17, 2004 16:11 IST

Abdul Qadeer Khan spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy loyalty - writing cheques for anything from seminars to friends' weddings - in a patronage scheme that allowed him to elude suspicion as head of the world's most successful nuclear black market, senior scientists and Pakistan government officials have said.

Pakistan acknowledged this month that Khan sold high-tech secrets to Iran, Libya and North Korea. But signs that the grandfatherly engineer was up to something illegal had been around for years.

"If you wrote to him that you wanted to attend a seminar or that your daughter was getting married, he would write back and there would be a cheque in there for you," Pervez Hoodhboy, a physicist at Islamabad's prestigious Quaid-e-Azam University, said on Monday.

"Sometimes there would be $50,000 or $100,000. He was very generous and he bought a lot of support, so people didn't say anything."

Farhatullah Babar, a senator from the opposition Pakistan People's Party, who was also involved in the nuclear programme early in his career, said Khan had almost total control to spend government money, and the secrecy of the nuclear programme meant there was no oversight.

"The kind of vast administrative and financial powers, without any check on them, that were given to Dr AQ Khan was unprecedented and unusual," he said. "The powers given to him were so great that he could use the funds however he wanted. ... Whoever has such great powers, it is a normal human failure to abuse them."

First Published: Feb 17, 2004 09:01 IST